Conference Corner: How to Become a Speaker at BlogHer Events
One of the questions I’m asked most frequently (as a part of the conference programming team) is this: “I want to speak at BlogHer. How can I make that happen?”
I have a canned answer, which is: “The best way to become a speaker at BlogHer Events is to apply during our Call for Ideas; you can submit yourself as a speaker on a certain topic, or you can submit a full session proposal (including other panelists!), or anywhere in between.”
But if you’ve ever asked me that question, you already know that answer. What you may not know are not-very-well-kept secrets to becoming a speaker. We generally share this information in each of our Call for Ideas posts. In anticipation of our launching a Call for Ideas for our upcoming conferences soon, I’m going to share those secrets with you again today.
BlogHer values new voices. Eighty percent of speakers are new-to-BlogHer. 80! So if you’ve never spoken at a BlogHer event before, you’ve got that working for you.
BlogHer values diverse voices. We want the panels to reflect the incredible range of voices that make up the BlogHer community. That's not limited to diversity in speakers' race or sexual orientation -- though those factors are very important to us. We also value diversity geographically, and we value diversity in background and viewpoint! (It’s worth mentioning here: We rarely have two individuals from the same site/organization speaking during the same session.)
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: BlogHer doesn’t want a row of nodding heads on a panel. We like interaction. We like when speakers discuss, even (civilly) debate a topic -- from multiple points on a spectrum. We’re not afraid of a little disagreement on stage… it makes for more interesting discussion!
Details, Details, Details! The more information you provide us, the better your chances of speaking.
- If you’re applying as a speaker: About what topic? Why are you the best person to speak about that topic? What is your experience/expertise? What would you share? Have you already thought through an outline of what you’d cover on that topic? That leads us to…
- If you’re applying with a session proposal: Is this a topic that BlogHer has covered in the past? What new information do you want to share? Does the topic have a new twist, a different angle? Have you thought through what information you want to discuss/share? Have you created an outline of what you’d cover? Have you created a list of other speakers you’d like to have on the panel, and what diversity and expertise they bring to the table?
The intake form for the Calls will help you answer many of these questions.
After each Call for Ideas period closes, we look at all submissions both individually and as a whole, and we weigh the ideas against each other to determine the best sessions to offer at that conference. We look for unique, interesting panels that will inspire interactive discussion among speakers and attendees. We look for panels that address a need we know we all have, or challenge us to think in new and important ways. We look for fresh topics that provide tons of "take-away" for attendees. And we define that "take-away" as: something concrete and actionable, something that attendees are going to be excited to implement on their own site, something attendees walk away excited about, something attendees can’t wait to tell their friends about.
So why am I telling you about this today? In the next few weeks, we’ll be launching the Call for Ideas for BlogHer Food ’12 (happening June 8-9, Seattle) and BlogHer ’12 (happening August 2-4, New York City)… And we want you to be ready! So start your engines, put on your thinking caps, and place pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, whichever way you roll). Start forming your ideas now. Then, when the Call for Ideas does launch (we’ll reveal the programming tracks for each event in the Call), you’ll be ahead of the game!
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What would you like to know about BlogHer events before attending your first conference? If you’re a veteran, what do you wish you had known beforehand? Or, perhaps you’re an introverted veteran attendee ... are there are things you *still* wish you knew, despite the number of conferences you’ve attended? I’d love to know!
About the Conference Corner: The Conference Corner is a weekly series about BlogHer events. Whether you’re a BlogHer newbie or BlogHer veteran, we hope you’ll gain some new insight in this segment!